10 Talks about Kids Divorced Parents Wish They'd Had before Marriage
Marriage comes with its fair share of milestones and bumps in the road, and one of the most life-changing is having children. Having kids is a monumental responsibility that few couples are truly prepared for.
Unless you’re on the same page, having kids can strain the strongest of relationships. In hindsight, we often have revelations about things we wished we’d done differently or, at the very least, discussed. This is especially true when it comes to conversations about having a family and bringing up kids.
1. Do we want kids?
You have a lot of choices about how you envision your marriage. And it may or may not include kids.
Today, research finds that a growing number of people of child-bearing age say it is unlikely they will have children or more children than they already have. Reasons vary from financial concerns to worries about the state of the world at large.
Having kids is a huge commitment that significantly changes the dynamics of a relationship, if you’re not on the same page about children, it can be devastating to your marriage. If one of you wants kids and the other doesn’t, marriage may not be the right choice.
2. How many kids do we want?
If you’ve decided you want kids in your future, it’s also important to understand how the size of your family fits in each partner’s ideal.
You may want the requisite two children, but your significant other grew up in a big, bustling family and wants a brood. How can you find a middle ground to make both of you happy? Or can you?
3. What if we can’t have kids?
If you can’t naturally have kids, would you consider alternatives? Would you adopt or look at IVF? Would you consider surrogacy? Would you feel resentful if your partner couldn’t have children? Or could you be happy without kids under the circumstances?
4. Will we both work?
Working isn’t just a financial thing. It can also be a matter of lifestyle and values. You may both have your own career aspirations, and neither may be ready to give them up.
While your financial goals are a strong consideration in your marriage, these goals will be especially critical if you decide to have kids. Children are expensive. Having a well-thought-out plan is crucial. Will you both work? If so, who will care for the kids? Can you afford to live on a single income, and would both of you be happy in this scenario?
5. What sort of education do we want the kids to have?
What kind of education do you envision for the kids? Do you envision a small private school while your spouse is an avid public school advocate? Would you ditch formal education altogether and opt for homeschooling?
Do you believe in hiring tutors or other support if your kids struggle academically? Do you envision that your kids will take part in extracurricular activities and lessons that may shape their interests and talents? And is it important to you to begin saving for college educations for your kids immediately to ensure it’s financially open to them?
6. What sort of discipline will we use?
Raising kids can be challenging at times, and discipline methods can vary widely. What are your views on child discipline, particularly punishment and rewards? Talk about what rules you feel are important to enforce and how you would set those boundaries for your kids. Discuss the need for parent consistency and the importance of always presenting a united front to your kids.
7. How will we handle social media?
Unlike when you were a child, social media has infiltrated every corner of modern life. How do you feel about parents who post every milestone on social media? When do you believe kids should have access to their own devices, and how will you monitor their online activity? Talk about how much time you feel is healthy for kids to spend in front of a screen.
8. Who will handle the cooking, cleaning, and other household tasks?
The division of labor can become a major point of contention in a marriage. The grind of household chores can be a significant burden on top of the added responsibilities of taking care of the kids. Who will change diapers? Give baths? Get up in the middle of the night? Will you share these responsibilities? Will one of you take primary responsibility for cooking and cleaning, or do you believe these tasks should be shared? When do you believe that kids should take on responsibilities around the house, and do you think giving them an allowance is appropriate?
9. What happens when they get to be teens?
Your kids will go from cute toddlers to surly teens before you know it. And disciplining a teen will look far different from disciplining that cute toddler. What do you consider “normal" teen behavior that can be overlooked, and when does it cross the line? How will you approach conflict resolution or enforce discipline when your child is no longer a “child?”
10. How will we prioritize our relationship after kids?
One of the best gifts you can give your kids is a healthy relationship between their parents. Unfortunately, when your connection takes a back seat, satisfaction in your relationship can decline.
It’s easy for couples to lose themselves in the never-ending tasks of parenting, but spending time on your relationship should always be a priority. How can you find ways to keep your communication open and your marriage at the forefront, no matter how busy and overwhelming your parenting responsibilities become?
Kids will vastly change any relationship, as many couples can attest. And while having these conversations may not paint the most romantic picture of life after marriage, they can lay a strong foundation for an easier transition into parenting.
Need more parenting advice? At Hello Divorce, we have a library of resources that can help make your path to a strong marriage – or an amicable divorce – a smoother journey. Let us help.
Growing share of childless adults in U.S. don’t expect to ever have children. (November 19, 2021). Pew Research Center.